In advance of its upcoming Spring Concert, PRISMA sat down with 2019 Concerto Competition winner Julie Lin. The Vancouver-born violinist will return to Powell River on March 12, 2020 for a one-of-a-kind performance with pianist Paul Williamson and cellist (and PRISMA maestro) Arthur Arnold. Here’s what’s been keeping her busy in the months since last year’s PRISMA Festival, some insight into her current repertoire choices, and where she sees her career taking her in the months to come!
Career-wise and study-wise, what’s changed for you in the months since you were last in Powell River?
JL: I’ve now almost reached the halfway mark of my Bachelor’s degree! I think both career-wise and study-wise the most important thing for me now is to continue to gain knowledge, experience, and practice! I have definitely piled on more of these since last summer in Powell River. New repertoire, great opportunities as well as scholarships that I am very thankful for – and a lot of tests and essays – stand between my summer and now.
In what way(s) did attending PRISMA impact you the most?
JL: PRISMA impacted me more than I imagined that it would. The short couple weeks were an intense dive into a professional world. My homestay mom can attest to this — I didn’t have many spare hours! I think this taste of a packed schedule that encapsulated all aspects of being a violinist (orchestral studies, chamber music, solo, score studying, spending time with and learning from amazing artists and colleagues) truly opened my eyes and renewed my passion for being a violinist and having a profession in this art.
How did you choose the pieces for the March 12 concert program? Which one(s) are you most excited about?
JL: Each piece came with much care and intention:
Beethoven — Spring Sonata No.5, Op.24, I Allegro
Firstly, Maestro Arnold and I discussed how it would be wonderful to do a piece in honour of Beethoven’s 250th birthday. And which better composition by this genius would be more fitting for a spring concert than Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 5 – often called the “Spring Sonata” because of the beautiful qualities of spring that flow from the music. This choice came easily.
Brahms – Violin Sonata no. 2
I wanted to play a piece that would be special for myself, Paul, as well as the Powell River audience. After much pondering, I asked Paul if he had any recommendations, hoping I would find something I wanted to play as we discussed. Shortly after I asked, he suggested Brahms’ second sonata for violin and piano. Little did he know that I had fallen in love with this piece this past summer and have been immersed in a six-month obsession with it ever since. Following his suggestion, I listened to it again (10 times straight!) and the simple and gentle themes took my breath away once more. The piece fit so perfectly with my memories in Powell River. The personal whispers and heartfelt cries in this piece mirrors the soft wind and the passionate hearts in the beautiful city! (As you may be able to tell, I am most excited to play this piece in March.)
Messiaen — Theme and Variations for Violin and Piano
Lastly, the Messiaen is a piece I began working on this semester, and one of the first pieces that I worked on and recorded with Paul. Theme et variations was written in 1932 and while it is a more modern composition with perhaps more rhythmic, harmonic and melodic complexity than the older “Classical” works, I think the Powell River audience will be able to appreciate and fully take away the characters and passion that spins out from the theme and variations!
Bob Hanf – Piano Trio (North American Premiere)
Coming just before the days of Messiaen, Bob Hanf was creating his music in a very different environment. Story to be continued from Maestro Arnold and myself on this! We are all very excited to take part in the world premiere of this trio.
How does it feel to return to Powell River – the site of your concerto competition win last year – and perform again for those who followed you throughout the festival?
JL: It is always very special to return somewhere you’ve built a relationship with. However, there is something extra special about Powell River. The amount of support and sincere love the PRISMA audience pours out into the music as well as the musicians is truly extraordinary. While my heart pounded during my time at PRISMA last summer from the excitement of competing in the concerto competition and performing solo with the orchestra, the anticipation for the Spring Concert is even greater for me. I want to show an improvement in artistry from the summer, and cannot wait to connect with those I met and those who supported me throughout the festival.
What’s the ultimate goal for you in the next five years career-wise? Do you have your sights set on anywhere/anything in particular?
JL: On the other side of “five years later”, I will already be in my mid-20s. These next few years will serve as a very important transition for me as I go from my studies to possibly entering the professional world. I will finish my undergraduate studies in 2022, and will pursue a Master’s degree afterwards, taking me to 2024. Meanwhile, as I go through my studies, I will most likely be taking auditions and opportunities to expand my experience. For musicians, studies do not hinder our already-launched career. I hope to have already performed many recitals and concerts in professional situations, whether that would be like my wonderful solo opportunity that I had in Powell River, or even more chamber and orchestral performances. I hope to connect with more audiences, and reconnect with special audiences! And the greatest goal for me is to have explored many, many more pieces in the expansive world of repertoire – more in depth and with more knowledge than I currently have.
Tickets to PRISMA’s March 12 Spring Concert are available now. Adults – $27.25; Under 18 – $12.25. General admission. Purchase online, at the PRISMA office, and at the door.